Love, Faith and Faithfulness: walking together into 2021

How are you feeling as we enter 2021 as a church family?  Full of hope or rather anxious?  However you feel, we know that the Lord is with us and He has gone ahead of us, showing us the way forward into the new year – a year which promises to be full of new learning and new growth.

Lent Programme – Faithful God, Faithful Church

The new school term coincides with the season of Lent, a time when we ask the Lord to reveal to us what is in our hearts and how He wants us to grow more like Him.  This Lent, Jamie and I have sensed that the Lord wants us to grow in two fruits of the Spirit in particular – the Fruits of Love and Faithfulness  – and growing in these areas will require us to step out in faith.

Have you ever had a Family Meeting? 

A time when you gathered as a family to discuss plans, make decisions or try to find solutions to problems?  This Lent is going to be a bit like doing St Nic’s Family Business as we ask the Lord to show us what’s really in our hearts – the good, the bad and the ugly – ask Him to pull out some weeds and co-operate with Him in growing more of the fruit of love and faithfulness in our lives.  We will be starting our  Lenten teaching  a little early this year as the ‘Faithful God, Faithful Church’ programme lasts 8 weeks, rather than 6.

At times it will be challenging.  We may have to confront our own sin or disappointments – but thanks be to God, thorugh Jesus sacrifice on the cross He has provided free forgiveness and has promised to cleanse us from all sin.  At other times we will be challenged to step out in faith in ways we have not done before.  And at other times we will just need to keep on doing what we have been doing – what Eugene Peterson called ‘a long obedience in the same direction’.  That can be a challenge in itself.  Yet the Lord doesn’t ask us to do anything He isn’t already doing for us daily , over and over again – and Jesus is our model.  Learning to love and be faithful like Him is going to be a wonderful adventure!

Get Involved!

Church membership can be a little bit like a gym membership.  We join full of good intentions but we often do not make the most of the opportunities afforded. In order to grow together as a community, we need everyone to be involved wholeheartedly.  We recognise that in our framework for the community. We aspire to Bless abundantly, Belong wholeheartedly, Believe increasingly, Behave with integrity and Become Good News. We don’t want to be merely hearers of the Word, but doers of the Word too – and not just a few of us – but all of us!

We would like to encourage everyone who considers St Nic’s to be their spiritual home to do the following:

  • Attend a Sunday service every week of the ‘Faithful God, Faithful Church’ teaching series, starting on Feb 7th and culminating in Easter Week. The family service will be following the same theme each week as the 8 am service.
  • If you are unable to attend a service each week, listen to the sermon that you have missed on line.
  • Do the Faithful God, Faitihful Church Study Notes each week either with a St Nic’s small group, a spouse or a friend.  These notes and exercises will be much more productive if done in conversation and prayer with others.
  • Take time to do the personal reflections and responses each week in order to effect genuine change and/or perseverance in your life.

Does that seem like a tall order?  Well the good news is, if you commit to each of these you will have your Lenten Disciplines all worked out for you!  And what’s more you will have a family of supporters walking the same path with you, praying and encouraging you along the way.  And, if you ‘drop the ball’ one week, just pick yourself up and get back on track, with no judgement or condemnation.  We’re in this together – all hopefully trying our best, but none of us yet perfect.

For Parents and Children

An information and activity pack will be available by February 7th so our younger members can put some of our learning into practice too.  These will be available on the table in the church building. Please ask Amelia if you would like it emailed to you.

I want to end with the famous words of the Three Musketeers – “All for One and One for All”!  Let’s aspire to love and faithfulness that brings that kind of unity among us at St Nic’s!

With love

Verity and Jamie

The Two Wings of the Church

Taken before Covid restrictions.

(Please note the picture above was taken earlier in the year before COVID restrictions applied- it illustrates studying together in groups.)

Last Sunday we completed our teaching on the Armour of God. It’s His armour and He gives it to us.

However, that does not mean we now park it and forget all about it. Armour needs to be put on. We can readily incorporate this in our daily prayer as a helpful spiritual discipline. Combine that with the Lord’s prayer and you have a whole pattern of prayer to draw upon. As we explored at our 10 am service there are significant overlaps. This next three weeks we are following the lectionary and then beginning our series on the ‘God of Joy’ starting October 18th.

Thanks to those of you who have already given us feedback on the Armour of God series. (18 families so far on the 10 experience) along with informal comments along the way. We appreciate all of you taking the time to do this. There were many encouragements and some things to explore further.

If you did not participate in our group bible study written to support the sermon series on the Armour of God, you can ask Amelia via stnicholasminster@gmail.com. If you want to explore the teaching more fully our bible studies really are helpful in this. Working through a study with others brings alternate perspectives and insights.

When we think of our community life and learning together, my hope is that we understand our Sunday gatherings are only one part of our discipleship. We encourage as many of you as possible to join a small group as this is where we explore the teaching more fully, build closer links with one another and bless each other. Small groups and congregational gatherings are the two wings of the church. If you cannot commit to a small group, it may be possible to form a triplet. Do talk to me more about this if it interests you. We also need to consider our emerging youth and how we can support them in small groups in the future. Please pray about this with me.

Pray for all our families on holiday. Please uphold Alf, John, and I as we prepare for our diocesan synod. Pray that we will be a diocese that remains in step with the wider Anglican communion and faithful to His word. Remember it’s in prayer that we stand together, in Christ and see His kingdom come.

Shalom, all,

Jamie

The Armour of God

This Sunday we begin an 8-week series on the Armour of God. Tragically, conflict is part of our world and the scriptures give us a ‘behind the scenes’ explanation and understanding of this. Scripture also tells us how God works to overcome all evil. Genesis 3: 14-15 frames the conflict where enmity is placed between the serpent and the descendent of Adam and Eve. We know this is fully realised in Jesus. (1 Cor 15: 20-21) It is Jesus who reveals the nature of the conflict in more detail and exposes the usurper the devil. Jesus goes on to disarm and expose him (Col 2:15), overrules him (Eph 1: 20-23), masters him (Phil 2: 9-11), and ultimately renders him powerless (Heb 2: 14-15). John declares ‘the reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work (1 John 3:8).

The fall that occurs in Genesis is form our position in relationship to God, angels, including the devil and the creation. The fall exposes us to the lies and deceit of satan, his accusations and desire to destroy all that is good. In Christ we regain our standing and God given authority to partner with Him in pressing His victory increasingly on Earth until Jesus’ final triumphant return.

As we looked at last Sunday with the parable of the weeds, there is a reason for the in between period from Jesus’ victory on the cross and the final renewing of the heavens and earth and destruction of all evil. This period is time for people to be restored in relationship to God, born again into his family and enabled to live as His body on Earth. we form a ‘triumph’ for Christ Jesus.

Bible study notes will be made available each week for our groups and anyone else in our community who wants to lay hold of this teaching and apply it. There are of course overlaps with some of the teaching we brought in our ‘Living Free’ course. The most significant thing I have realised in my preparation is the corporate nature of this warfare and that the sphere is primarily in prayer. Paul clearly declared our battle is not against ‘flesh and blood’, yet that is how we tend to think. In fact our battle is spiritual and in the heavenly realms. I am looking forward to sharing it with you and pray this will be a further equipping of our community in realising God’s kingdom in us and through us into Australind and beyond. To God be the glory.

Please read through the scriptures I have referenced here. Pray for all of us as we work through this teaching that we would be lay hold of it. If you cannot be with us in person, listen to the teaching online if you can. it is important for us as a community going forward.

Shalom as always, Jamie.

Chaplaincy Catch Up

Greetings fellow St Nicholas-ians! Thank you so much my lovely church family and wonderful sister & brothers-in-Christ for your patience and understanding as I’ve journeyed through this process—the initial part, until my appointment at a school, waiting to be informed of what and when I could do things and let you know.

The role is so much bigger than I thought or anticipated, not only at the school but also with the connections to the YouthCARE District Council (of which our own Jan Capp is a rep) and with the church community, all of which has been made a little more challenging with the current pandemic. However, God is gracious in surrounding me with support in all areas and in reminding me that it is still early days. The need is big, but our God is bigger!

I love my role as a Chaplain at Parkfield Primary School on Tuesday and Thursdays. I am now fifteen weeks in and things are settling into a lovely routine. My key roles are; providing pastoral care for students and staff; supporting and building upon our existing Virtues and Wellness programs and providing a link between the school, the community and local support agencies. I have always had a heart and love for others and pastoral care. As many of you know chaplaincy too has always been a focus of mine, although  I thought it was to be a support person with prayer and fundraising or donations! The main message(s) of our training were: we are called and equipped—we are appointed and anointed; we are the most valuable resource, and be you. As most of you who know me would know the ‘be you’ part I can’t help but live out and the being called and equipped is the ‘wind in my sails’! I do know that I am called and equipped and know when I have my eyes set on God I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

YouthCARE’s theme this year is to ‘be Peacemakers’. This follows their previous themes of being a ‘light on the hill’ and ‘salt of the earth’ people. We have been celled to reflect the light of Christ by living out our lives with hope and, in our encounters with others, through our words, actions and deeds, to demonstrate peaceful confidence as we go about engaging with all in our school communities. I pray as I answer God’s call that I may be an encouraging peacemaker, an instrument of peace, looking at everyone through the eyes of Jesus and all in God’s strength and in, and for, His Glory and that everyone sees Him in me and my actions. I am so grateful for you all, for your amazingly insightful words for me, your encouragement of me and mostly for your love of me just as I am, and that is what I take with me. I would appreciate your prayers, especially on Tuesday and Thursday,  for me to ‘walk the talk’ and ‘practice what I preach’ through God’s strength and with His Holy Spirit breathing through me—especially on the ‘tricky’ days and with the ‘tricky’ parts.

Blessings to you all, Jo xox

Rick’s Testimony

I must admit, I entered the Alpha course with some apprehension considering that it would be done in the isolation of our own homes, online! Most courses I have been on or facilitated involve a heavy bias towards interaction and the fellowship of being together. These fears soon dissipated with the warmth of the people involved and the excellent way that Jamie and Verity ran the sessions.

There was a good mix of people in different stages of their journey with Christ. The course material is very well structured. The initial meeting focused on the solid foundation of belief. I found the presentation of the history and supporting evidence of the Bible and the session “Why did Jesus Die” particularly compelling.

The narration from Nicky Gumball and his team is uplifting. This is followed by testimonies by some incredible people. They ranged from hardened criminals that had turned to Christ to personal prayer friends of the Pope! The common thread is the love of Jesus and you could see the gentleness and warmth these people exuded.

I highly recommend everyone to participate in an Alpha course, whether you have been involved with church for a number of years or just a few weeks. I am looking forward to my renewed journey with Christ. God Bless. ~ Rick

Monday Fellowship Group

We are a diverse group of men and women, mostly mature Christians, who meet each Monday to study God’s word. Our studies are based on prepared courses covering six weeks. The topics vary; some compiled by Jamie and Verity, and some adapted by Jan Capp.

Discussions are open and all members are encouraged to express their opinions. I sometimes have to close and discussion continue over afternoon tea.

When we started studying ‘Being Together’ the Roman Catholics in our group were concerned that it might be Anglican centred but we have all found the topic interesting and thought provoking.

We are aware of the evil of gossip, as against open discussion of concerns. Our group has developed into a  safe place where people feel free to raise matters of concern.  Free discussion with fellow Christians can be helpful in many ways.

Once a matter has been brought to light and viewed form different angles it may be proven to be unworthy of concern. Shared discussion may produce a solution that can be taken further.

Of course we need some wiser, mature Christians in our group to see that discussion doesn’t slip into gossip. We have those people. Next term we will be studying ‘Living Free’. We would love for you to join us.

Blessings,

Betty Frost

Robyn’s Testimony

In 2018 I set myself a challenge to read the Chronological One Year Bible. This Bible is arranged in the order the events occurred in 365 daily readings.

At the time I had a New Age business and had studied various New Age practices over the past 20 years. I had a collection of crystals, books, essential oils, statues of various false gods, Oracle cards and assorted ‘tools’ for my business.

I was inspired by the testimony of a prominent ex-new Age woman named Doreen Virtue, who had recently had an encounter with Jesus. Doreen was a successful author (with Hay House), teacher, and a successful businesswoman in the New Age. She walked away from it all to follow Jesus.

At the end of 2017 Doreen announced she was going to do daily video posts for the 365 daily Bible readings. I decided to join in, along with thousands of others. Her daily commentaries and links to helpful videos really helped me to get through some challenging areas in the Old Testament.

My original thoughts were that I would still be able to have my feet in both worlds, keep up my new age work and read the bible. Four months in I threw out all my new age books, the essential oils, and many other items I had collected over the years. God’s words were sliding into my heart and I knew His words were the TRUTH. Two passages from the Bible that spoke to me were from Deuteronomy.

Deuteronomy 4: 16-20

So do not corrupt yourselves by making an idol in any form – whether of a man or a woman, an animal on the ground, a bird in the sky, a small animal that scurries along the ground, or a fish in the deepest sea. And when you look up into the sky and see the sun, moon, and stars – all the forces of heaven – don’t be seduced into worshiping them. The Lord your God gave them to all the people of earth.

At the time I was attending Full-Moon and New-Moon rituals, honoring the four directions, and believing certain animals, crystals, and false gods held various powerful energies that could enhance/improve my life.

Deuteronomy 18: 10-12

And do not let your people practice fortune-telling, or use sorcery, or interpret omens, or engage in witchcraft, or cast spells, or function as mediums or psychics, or call forth the spirits of the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord.

Reading that the things I was practicing were detestable to the Lord really hit me, because I honestly thought I was helping people.

Each of us comes to the Lord damaged. So, He begins a renovation program to repair our thoughts about Him, about others, and about ourselves.

(from Bob Gass)

Doreen often encouraged us to find a church to attend. She said having other Christians to support and encourage you was an important step. When Sunday would come around, I would make excuses as to why I couldn’t go. One day I was walking past St Nics and felt God was calling me to this church.

In May 2018 I attended St Nics for the first time. Being a person who finds going to unfamiliar places with people I don’t know very challenging, I was comforted by the warm welcome I received from Jamie, Verity and all the parishioners. I feel so blessed to have found this church. Since then I have completed the Alpha Course; which I found incredibly helpful and answered some of the questions I had, in easy and simple terms. Verity invited me to join the lovely ladies in the Connect group; where I have made valued friendships.

On Sunday 20th October I was Baptised and Confirmed by Bishop Ian, supported by my family and my church family.

John 3: 5-7

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.

The decision on January 1 2018, to begin to read the bible in one year, has changed my life. Instead of believing my thoughts created my reality, worshiping false gods and God’s creations, I now know that God is the one who walks with me, He is my provider, he is my redeemer, the one who forgives, and the one I worship.

Isaiah 55: 11

My word that goes out form my mouth will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

Blessings,

Robyn

 

Alpha: Kat’s Testimony

Kat’s Testimony

Alpha, 2018

When I first started Alpha I was very sceptical about everything: God, Jesus and Christianity as a whole. I was very set in the way of that in order to believe, I had to have hard evidence. I had to see it to believe it. I also desperately wanted to have an experience like I felt that everyone else was.

Alpha for me was one of the best experiences I ever had. I met people with similar questions to me and felt like I was not alone but part of a family. Being part of Alpha completely changed me and doing it in a group was wonderful because we had different questions and different views.

On Alpha I found my own path and started my own personal journey. I gave my life to Jesus and since then have started the most wonderful journey with God. I was blessed with a real experience with the Holy Spirit. My life changed for the better and I just know now, how real God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are and am so grateful they are in my life.

I truly recommend this course for anyone with question and who wants to develop a better relationship with our Lord. Alpha for me was the first stepping stone into my own personal journey with God and Jesus.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

A Prayer for Christmas and Epiphany

Blessed are you, Lord our God,
our eternal Father and David’s king:
You have made our gladness greater and increased our joy
by sending to dwell among us
the Wonderful Counsellor, the Prince of Peace.
Born of Mary,
proclaimed to the shepherds,
and acknowledged to the ends of the earth,
Your unconquered Sun of righteousness
destroys our darkness and establishes us in freedom.
All glory in the highest be to you:
through Christ, the Son of your favour,
in the anointing love of his Spirit,
now and for ever and ever.
Amen

From the Prayer Book for Australia (p.436)